United Campus Workers unites Tennessee's higher education staff and faculty into a strong voice to address critical issues we face. Our mission is to advance and defend the interests of all Tennessee higher education staff and faculty, as well as promoting solidarity, democracy, and advancing social and economic justice in our workplaces and in our communities.

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Workers at University of Memphis win critical step towards Living Wage

Campus workers join fast food strikes demanding $15 and a union May 15, 2014
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Shortly after 9:30am Monday morning, October 20, 2014 in an email to all staff and faculty University of Memphis President M. David Rudd announced the university "has requested Tennessee Board of Regents’ approval to increase the minimum salary for all employees in regular, benefits-eligible positions to $10.10 per hour, effective January 2015." When approved the base pay raise will represent a 14% increase for the lowest paid employees. (Full text of President Rudd's announcement is available below.) This most welcome news comes four years after campus workers launched a living wage campaign and organizing drive to build their union United Campus Workers, and is the latest in an ever growing list of victories for the movement to win living wages for workers on university campuses, at fast food restaurants, in home healthcare work, and many other sectors of the economy. 

"When I heard about the President's announcement I couldn't help but screaming. I was standing in my house and started yelling 'WE ARE WINNING," explained longtime University of Memphis custodian and UCW Vice President Thelma Jean Rimmer. "Many of my coworkers believed this could never happen. We have worked so hard, and this isn't over. But today is a good day, and I see what we can do."

#PeopleFirstBudget: Selfies for a living wage

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Without campus workers, our campus wouldn’t work—but that reality isn’t reflected in the budget. Despite the fact that thousands of us public higher education employees across Tennessee make less than a living wage, and many more of us make right around it, while all of our wages and salaries fall far below that of our peer institutions, we aren’t a priority for state spending. Tuition and fees are going up on our students; buildings are getting built all around our campus; but our wages—well, they’re right where they’ve been for a while. It's been nearly two years since we saw any increase in our wages. That’s why we’re taking action. We’re calling for a budget that puts the people first.

Governor Haslam cuts promised pay raises, higher education funding

Sadly, this is not an April fool’s message...

Yesterday afternoon Gov. Haslam axed your raise, and slashed much needed funds for higher education.

“Despite assurances that higher education would be fully funded, that real resources would couple the ‘Drive to 55’ rhetoric, and that Tennessee would lead the country in improving salaries for educators, once again our governor has failed to make good on his promises,” said Tom Anderson, UCW-CWA President and UT Knoxville Facilities Services employee. “It’s the saddest of ironies that his budget amendment comes the same day we learn that he and his staff used a $300 million slush fund to bully Volkswagen workers rights.”

Join Our "Put the People First" Campaign on May First!


Over 350 Tennesseans, lead by United Campus Workers and other CWA members rallied on March 11 to tell Governor Haslam to PUT THE PEOPLE FIRST

Join the movement to Put the People First in Tennessee!

These Tennesseans called for living wage jobs, fully funded public education, and that Nashville respect our democratic rights to organize, protest, bargain, and vote freely. It was the start of a movement throughout Tennessee to Put the People First, and grassroots worker, community, faith, and student organizations have come together to form the coalition. At the Capitol, we rallied, then delivered a letter to Governor Bill Haslam, calling on him and the Tennessee General Assembly "to make the interests of Tennessee working people your top priority." See a video from The Tennessean here.

Movement to Put the People First

On March 11, 2014, over 350 UCW members and allies from across the state converged on the Capital Steps in Nashville, TN to tell lawmakers to Put the People First. The rally ended with a march to Governor Haslam's office to deliver a letter, outlining our disagreement with his corporate-backed agenda and detailing our Put the People First agenda for living wage jobs, full funding for public education, and protecting and upholding our democratic rights

Workers Celebrate Step Toward Living Wage at UT

After thirteen years of calling on the University of Tennessee to seriously tackle the problem of poverty wages on its campuses, members of United Campus Workers, the union of staff and faculty at the state’s public colleges and universities, are cautiously celebrating. Today, UT agreed to raise its base pay to $9.50/hour for all full and part time regular employees by June 2014.

UCW Members Beef Up Their Organizing Skills at Training in Mississippi

UCWs members took part in a unique, concentrated organizing training held in Jackson, MS in mid-October. Joining together with dozens of public workers from other CWA locals from Mississippi, Florida, New Jersey, New York, and California, the participants learned about and then practiced principles of union organizing, including how to talk to coworkers and move them to action.

"The OI was a great opportunity to learn new organizing skills and to get to know other union member activists from across the country," said Melanie Barron, a Graduate Teaching Assistant in Geography at UT Knoxville. "I have a better understanding of the importance of building genuine, solid relationships with my coworkers as I’m organizing on the job, and I feel emboldened and ready to make our union stronger—one member at a time."